The Wiz Live! star, 34, shared three photos on Thursday, July 23, via Instagram of herself and Rivera — who portrayed Mercedes Jones and Santana Lopez, respectively — singing together over the years.
“I’m so mad the world will never see how high you could have soared. Her brain was brilliant. She was smart and as quick as a whip. Always had me in stitches, we would be in tears laughing so hard at one another,” Riley captioned the post.
She added, “You deserved better. You were so much more than just this show. Your talent outshined us all so many times!”
The Dancing With the Stars alum went on to share her favorite memory of Rivera, which took place while the duo were on tour in London.
“Naya greasing her scalp with Doo Gro oil, a plastic cap and a silk bonnet 😂 my sister said “Oh, Naya you blackity black black’ we burst out into laughter,” Riley wrote. “We needed it too because we just wanted to get home to our families. We were alike in that way. We love hard, and protect our own, and we don’t take no s–t from anyone (Kevin [McHale] is literally the byproduct of US 😂).”
The Los Angeles native also revealed that she honors the Sorry Not Sorry author in the same way as their former Glee costar Cory Monteith, who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2013 at age 31.
“We can either slice you with our words, or bring you comfort with that same breath. Dealer’s choice. I say your name everyday and hold you in my heart, just like I do Cory,” she wrote.
Rivera was pronounced dead on July 13, five days after she rented a pontoon boat at Lake Piru in California with her 4-year-old son, Josey. She was 33.
Her son — whom she shares with her ex-husband Ryan Dorsey — was found sleeping alone in the boat wearing a life vest. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department determined that the actress boosted Josey on board the boat before disappearing under the water.
“We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey,” the sheriff told reporters. “It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
Rivera’s body was recovered on the same day that some of her Glee castmates — including Riley — joined her family members in prayer at Lake Piru. The date also marked the seventh anniversary of Monteith’s death.
The Devious Maids alum received an outpouring of emotional tributes from her Glee costars including Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Matthew Morrison and Heather Morris. Riley, for her part, posted a video via Instagram on July 14 of Rivera singing with her son.
“My favorite duet partner,” she captioned the post. “I love you. I miss you. I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything.”